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Russian Black Sea Fleet Has One ‘Loser’ Missile Ship Left in Crimea: Kyiv

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Russia’s military has pulled almost all of its combat vessels able to fire cruise missiles from Crimea, according to Ukraine’s navy, as Kyiv repeatedly hits Russia’s Black Sea fleet presence close to the coastline of the war-torn country.

“Most of the combat units, if you take the carriers of cruise missiles, actually all relocated, except for one,” Captain Dmytro Pletenchuk said on Saturday, according to Ukrainian media.

Russia’s Cyclone warship remains in Crimea, Pletenchuk said, describing the vessel as a “loser” that “still has not launched a single missile.”

Newsweek has reached out to the Russian Defense Ministry for comment via email.

Ukraine’s navy is small, but Kyiv has been inventive in its use of missiles and naval drones against Moscow’s Black Sea Fleet, partially based in Crimea. Russia’s military has been ill-equipped to fend off frequent attacks, sustaining heavy losses in sharp contrast to the relative success it has had in gaining territory on land.

The Cyclone, or Tsiklon, is a Karakurt-class corvette that joined the Black Sea Fleet in July 2023, according to Russian state media. It can fire Kalibr cruise missiles, and was built in the Crimean city of Kerch, the state-run Tass news agency reported.

Ukrainian officials estimate that Russia has now lost up to a third of its Black Sea Fleet at Kyiv’s hands.

Earlier this month, Ukraine said it had taken out several Russian vessels based around Crimea. Moscow has controlled the Crimean Peninsula for a decade—Kyiv has vowed to reclaim the territory.

Ukraine said on March 24 that it had successfully hit two of Russia’s large landing ships, the Yamal and the Azov, in strikes on the Crimean port city of Sevastopol. Kyiv later said it had also destroyed the Konstantin Olshansky landing ship and a key reconnaissance vessel, the Ivan Khurs.

Russia’s amphibious vessels, like the Yamal and Azov, are one of Ukraine’s many targets in the Black Sea. Kyiv has destroyed a Russian submarine, the Rostov-on-Don, and has taken out other enemy vessels since the start of the year, such as a patrol ship and a missile-armed corvette.

Shortly after the outbreak of all-out war in Ukraine, Kyiv struck the Black Sea fleet flagship, the Moskva, in a strike attributed to domestically built Neptune anti-ship missiles.

Ukraine has succeeded in jeopardizing Russia’s operations in the northwestern Black Sea and the frequent drone and missile strikes have forced Moscow to relocate some of its naval assets in the region further away from Ukraine’s reach, including to its Novorossiysk base.

Russia is still dominant across much of the Black Sea, even if it is restrained in the northwestern corner closest to Ukraine because of attacks by Kyiv’s forces, retired Ukrainian Navy Captain Andrii Ryzhenko told Newsweek in early March.

Reports have also suggested the Kremlin is planning a new military base at the port of Ochamchire in Abkhazia, a breakaway region of Georgia. This would put Russian Black Sea assets even further from Ukraine’s coastline.

The U.K. government said earlier this month that Russia had likely restricted most of its operations to the eastern Black Sea.

Moscow has also announced it will beef up the protection around its fleet with large-caliber machine guns to shoot at incoming naval drones before they strike Russian vessels.

Karakurt-class corvette
Karakurt-class corvette “Sovetsk” on July 28, 2019, in St. Petersburg, Russia. The “Cyclone” is the only Russian cruise missile-armed warship still based at the Crimean Peninsula, Kyiv has claimed.

Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images